• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

The Spring 2017 Manga Guide
Royal Tutor Vol. 1

What's It About?

An original manga by Higasa Akai, The Royal Tutor follows the appointment of brilliant scholar Heine Wittgenstein to the position of royal tutor in the fictional 19th century Germanic-like kingdom of Granzreich. Tasked with shaping four of the kingdom's five princes into educated, well-mannered, and empathetic heirs to the throne, the diminutive Heine—childlike in appearance—encounters resistance from the princes on his very first day. Fed up with poor experiences with previous tutors, Princes Kai, Bruno, Leonhard, and Licht all resist their new tutor in their own characteristic ways. Patient and resolved, Heine sets out to win each prince over to allow him to fulfill his promise to guide each of them down the right path—all while he keeps his own enigmatic origins a secret.

The Royal Tutor (5/23/17) volume 1 is available in paperback for $13.00 from Yen Press and in digital format for $2.99 from comiXology, where you can purchase the latest chapters as well as complete volumes. An anime adaptation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Is It Worth Reading?

Amy McNulty

Rating: 5

Although the bishonen-laden backdrop may make the casual browser classify The Royal Tutor as a series aimed at a niche market of fujoshi, this highly funny, beautifully-drawn manga has something for virtually everybody. While there's no overlooking the fact that each of the four featured princes share characteristics one might find among bachelors in an otome game or a reverse-harem series, romance isn't a factor in these proceedings, nor are the princes so rigidly defined by their stereotypes as to not seem like genuine, three-dimensional people. For example, Leonhard, the stubborn prince, has many hallmarks of the tsundere, but he's not grating about it, instead responding how an overly dramatic stubborn person might in the face of kindness. He takes up most of the pages in this debut volume, followed by Bruno, the genius prince, whose prejudice against a tutor whose education doesn't meet his standards makes for a hilarious contest of wills between the two before Bruno does a complete about-face once he acknowledges Heine's talents. Playboy Licht is clearly savvier than appears at first glance, which makes his skills as the most socially skilled prince all the more potentially meaningful. Kai's manner of to-the-point speaking does get tiresome at times, but it's also effective, as he only speaks at all when it serves a purpose.

Heine's childlike appearance makes for a running gag throughout the volume and Akai finds new ways to drive the joke home at almost every turn. Coupled with the chibi form he takes on almost without notice, the comedy is even more en pointe. The one drawback so far is the lack of the mysterious eldest prince, the current heir to the throne who lives elsewhere. Drawn only in silhouette and spoken of as a highly competent future king, it'd be interesting to see how he views the fact that Heine is supposed to groom all four of his little brothers to potentially replace him. The first volume, so focused on introductions, has yet to definitively indicate there's going to be an obstacle ahead for the princes, other perhaps than their own challenges in becoming more rounded people.

Akai takes her artistic inspiration from 19th century Austria-Hungary and no detail is spared in the depiction of beautiful attire and the lavish palace that serves as the background to the proceedings. At the same time, screentones and lack of backgrounds are also used adeptly throughout to punctuate emotions and call subtle attention to behavior that seems at odds with a character's first impression. The character designs are attractive, if a bit sharper than one might expect after seeing the anime adaptation. With three-dimensional characters, effective comedic timing, and stunning art, The Royal Tutor is off to a great start.

Rebecca Silverman

Rating: 3 

The Royal Tutor’s first volume somehow manages to take several of my pet peeves and still come out with a story that I'm interested in, which would be impressive enough with only one thing that tends to make me crazy, but is even more so when this book contains at least three: an adult who inexplicably looks like an elementary schooler, characters who slot firmly into stereotypes, and historical accuracy issues. I realize that the last is a little silly, given that it takes place in a fictional country, but since enough attention is being paid to make sure that we can tell the land is based on mid-19th century Austria, they could at least dress the Queen Mother properly and use consistently period-appropriate language. Yes, I am that horribly picky.

And yet despite these problems, The Royal Tutor’s introductory volume is engaging and interesting. Heine Wittgenstein's brilliance both as an intuitive teacher and an academic come across clearly, while it is equally obvious that a couple of the princes are in no way who or what they appear to be. Heine's position in the palace in itself is somewhat suspect: he's not only a commoner, but one who, despite his vast store of knowledge, has never been to university. This book gives the definite sense that there's more going on beneath the surface, not only with the princes and Heine, but also possibly within the kingdom itself – why is the king so keen on making sure that his other princes are able to take over the throne if need be when, by all accounts, the Crown Prince is perfectly suited for the job? I also would not be surprised to find out that Heine himself has some sort of supernatural origins, but that's pure speculation on my part, as there really hasn't been anything in the text to support it.

The balance of the art is a little off, with Higasa Akai relying a bit too heavily on comedic chibis to transition from scene to scene. This is also true of the narration, which seems to bounce between Heine and an omniscient third person with little rhyme or reason. Likewise Heine himself goes between “compassionate and understanding teacher” to “(supposedly) humorous use of corporal punishment,” which gives the character an uneven feel. Akai may still be trying to work the kinks out, but if these inconsistencies remain for many more books, it could prove detrimental. The volume is good enough to merit giving it a chance to work these things out, though; hopefully that will pay off.

Nik Freeman

Rating: 3

I had a pretty simple reaction when I first opened up volume one of The Royal Tutor: “Oh no.” The first sight that greeted me was Heine, sitting in a chair, with four fabulously pretty princes draped around him. Clearly, I was not ready for this. Fortunately, as the manga itself was quick to point out, appearances can be deceiving, and while a clear draw of the story is its cast of good-looking male characters who cater to a variety of tastes, it's more set on causing titters than titillation. It's fast-paced and zany, with absolutely no effort made to make any of the characters look the least bit dignified. Whether it's Leonhard and Bruno acting like children, Licht pressing everyone's buttons as hard as possible, or little Heine getting carried around like a toy, The Royal Tutor will clearly do anything to get a laugh. The artwork supports this as well, as the pin-up worthy cast are often drawn in the least flattering ways, particularly Heine, who might be drawn as a cold-eyed chibi figure more often than as his regular character design. It's a smart decision, too, since the art isn't especially consistent outside the comedic moments.

There's also a good amount of heart to The Royal Tutor, which sets up some basic but effective obstacles for Heine to overcome as he prepares to educate his new students. A lot of the first volume is dedicated to showing how Heine is truly concerned with helping the four princes, but equally important is the fact that he is willing to learn from them. Despite his endlessly stoic appearance, Heine's personality comes across in his open-mindedness and willingness to listen. That helps him to connect with the princes, and just as importantly, it helps the gags in the series to keep rolling. It's unfortunate that, despite the don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover theme or the manga, the princes feel like little more than stereotypes – just different stereotypes than the ones they initially appear to be. Only Licht seems to offer anything beneath his surface appearance at this point aside from Heine himself, with the three remaining princes having settled comfortably into their respective comedic roles. That doesn't make the series necessarily bad, it just appears to not have anything very exceptional to offer.

The Royal Tutor probably won't do a lot for someone who's not a fan of bishounen-focused comedy. Even so, as someone who's clearly not in the target demographic, I will admit the volume got two big laughs out of me. It's a harmless enough work and fans of reverse harem series (does it count as a reverse harem if the protagonist is also a guy?), especially those of the also-recently-debuted anime, will probably get plenty of enjoyment out of it.

discuss this in the forum (49 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

back to The Spring 2017 Manga Guide
Feature homepage / archives